Memo sent to all NFL teams

Updated: November 21, 2004, 3:41 PM ET
ESPN.com news services

NFL commissioner Paul Tagliabue sent a memo late Friday to all 32 owners, executives and head coaches, again criticizing the Monday Night Football opening that featured "Desperate Housewives" actress Nicolette Sheridan and Eagles receiver Terrell Owens.

Tagliabue reminded clubs that cooperating with the networks does have its limits and to exercise necessary discretion. Tagliabue urged all to read an attached New York Times op-ed piece by Steelers owner Dan Rooney, who blasted the Monday night opening as "disgraceful."

Here is a copy of the Tagliabue memo:

"As many of you have already stated, the opening segment of the November 15 telecast of "Monday Night Football" was inappropriate, tasteless, and completely unsuitable for our audience. ABC has apologized publicly for airing this opening.

"We are continuing to focus on all of our business partner relationships (networks, licensees, sponsors, etc.) to ensure that they understand and share our perspective on how we expect the League, all clubs and NFL football to be presented and represented.

"On network television, while League policies continue to require clubs to cooperate with the television networks, clubs are not obligated simply to accede to every network request. Rather, it is incumbent upon everyone to use discretion and good judgment, and to carefully consider the NFL's audience -- a national audience of all ages, backgrounds and interests (including families and young people who play sports and learn about sports' values from the NFL). Our job is to serve that audience with appealing football programming, not to alienate it.

"Needless to say, this audience has strong and widely varying views of what should and should not be part of the telecast of an NFL football game. So our challenge is broad, but we must be up to it -- as we have been for the past forty-five years of network television.

"The New York Times invited Dan Rooney to write a piece on this issue for today's editorial page. A copy of the column is attached. I urge everyone to read it carefully and consider its important message."

ESPN's Chris Mortenson contributed to this report.

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